Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What if Water Was Work?

Last week we went on a short trip to Maple Mountain, our entire trip log can be found here. So, if the trip has already been written up on the web, why am I writing here? I wanted to focus on the green nature of the vacation, and especially on water usage.

Compared to most vacations, canoeing and camping in a provincial park is pretty low on the resource usage. We actually tried this trip last year and had to turn around on the second day due to rough water on the Lady Evelyn lake....my DH agreed to turn around when I kept whimpering about being too young to end up in Davy Jones's locker. We came back this year, with a very important change (though a bit less green), we brought a motor to put on the back of our canoe! Now you might think that if I was really the Green Canadian, we'd be paddling that boat ourselves, avoiding any use of gasoline. Turns out we hate paddling, so after envisioning a watery grave last year as we fought the swells, we purchased an old 4 HP engine. Four horsepower goes a lot further a lot faster than two person power, especially when we were the two persons! The fact is, without the motor this year we wouldn't have made it any further than last year. I think they should rename Smoothwater Provincial Park to "Rough Enough to Beat Your Canoe Up Provincial Park", but I can see that it doesn't really have the same ring to it.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that our water usage at home is 130 litres per person per day, and the Canadian average is 329 litres per person per day. Our trip lasted for two days this time (successfully completed in two days!) and we brought in three litres of water with us. We filtered four more litres while we were out, bringing us to seven litres total, or 1.75 litres per person per day. That's 128.25 litres per person per day LESS than our average at home. All of that water was used for consumption. If we'd stayed out longer, we would have increased our consumption... it was pretty cool and overcast so we didn't drink as much as we would have on a nice sunny day.

I'm not advocating that anyone try to get down to 1.75 litres of water use...since we were only out for a couple of days, showering wasn't an issue, and obviously there were no flush toilets in the wilderness. I'm betting we can be more conservative as a society though. How much of the water we use is wasted because we didn't have to do any more work than turning on a tap? If we had to put effort into the water we use, would we let the shower run until we found the exact right temperature? Would we wash a shirt every time we wear it? Next time you're turning on the tap, think about whether your usage would change if you had to put some effort into acquiring the water.

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